As well as bringing all your favourite authors to town and providing an excellent excuse for having ‘book-etloads’ of fun, the literary circus that is Manchester Children’s Book Festival also hopesto inspire you, the next generation of readers and creative writers, to go forth and create great things. With this in mind, we love hearing about all the wonderfully imaginative ways the Festival has spurred you into action.
One such tale comes from 12 year-old Charlotte Bayliss who, encouraged by the authors she’d seen at the 2012 Festival, entered BBC Radio 2’s 500 WORDS competition earlier this year. 500 WORDS is a story-writing challenge for young people aged 13 and under, where entrants must write a short story of no more than – you guessed it! – 500 words in length.
Charlotte’s heart-warming account about a person who is blind, entitled What Colour is the Wind?, fought off tough competition and made it through to a shortlist of 3,000 stories from nearly 120,000 entries – that’s double the number of people you can fit into a football stadium! With an all-star judging panel featuring the likes of Malorie Blackman and Frank Cottrell Boyce calling the shots, this was no mean feat for the talented young writer.
Paul Bayliss MBE, proud dad of Charlotte (to use his official title!) and General Manager of the Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa
, took some time out to tell us how the Manchester Children’s Book Festival had encouraged Charlotte to put pen to paper. He also shared his must-see tips for this year’s Festival.
Paul says Charlotte’s success followed a surprise encounter with Lara, the real life canine version of Andrew Cope’s Spy Dog
“Charlotte’s vociferous when it comes to reading and writing. We brought her to Manchester Children’s Book Festival a couple of years ago and she was amazed because the dog from the book she was reading, Spy Dog by Andrew Cope, was sitting right in front of her…she was just starstruck, it was like seeing Brad Pitt or something. It helped bring the book to life and reinforced the value of reading and writing to her.”
Paul is a keen supporter of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival – he even held a fundraising cake sale for the Festival at the hotel earlier this year.
“I think it’s a fantastic event. I think it was one of Manchester’s best kept secrets a couple of years ago but this year it’s getting much more recognition, which is great, and long may it continue because I think it’s a fantastic event…it’s probably one of the keynote events in Manchester because it’s about encouraging children, bringing on their education and giving them access to these authors, which is vital really.”
Paul’s picks for 2014 include the charismatic Andrew Cope’s Spy Dog and Spy Pups at Chorlton Library – the very event that prompted Charlotte’s rise to storyteller stardom – and Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson’s Musical Afternoon Tea, taking place at the Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa’s sister hotel, the Macdonald Townhouse Hotel.
Tickets for the above events are selling fast so hop to it and who knows, in years to come your name may well feature on the Festival bill alongside the likes of Charlotte and her fellow aspiring authors.